Sisters Leigh and Casey Isaacson are on a mission: to help people find love with a little help from their four-legged friends.
Although the app only recently hit the app store, just before Valentine’s Day this year, its inception traces back to 2015. Casey had to deal with a breakup, in part because her partner didn’t get along with her dog well. Not long after that, the two came up with the idea for Dig and validated it with one statistic: 55 percent of all single adults in the US are pet owners.
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“It’s a niche idea, but it’s a huge niche,” Leigh said. “Most single people are pet owners with this major compatibility concern”
To start, users make a profile for themselves not only with their information but also some of their dog’s information. Dig’s initial matching system works much like other dating apps: an algorithm serves up potential partners daily, and the user chooses whether or not to “dig” them.
The app places an emphasis on finding matches between people that can not only coexist with each other, but can get along with each other’s pets. Dig gives users access to special deals from local pet suppliers, notifications about dog-themed events in town, and suggestions for dog-friendly dates between matched pairs.
While the app is only just coming to Boston, it’s already been launched in a number of other cities nationwide, including New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, and Chicago with about 8,000 users.
To successfully shepherd their company through its early phase, the Isaacson sisters are learning from precedents. Previous dating apps, both focused on pet owners and other groups, sometimes launch nationally too fast for their own good — While this leads to a higher number of users, they are less concentrated in specific cities and have a tough time finding significant matches.
“We’ve been lucky that other people have tried to do this before in other types of ways, and we can really learn from their mistakes when building our app,” Leigh said.
Leigh and Casey are aiming to bring Dig to 25 cities by the end of 2018 before launching nationally sometime in 2019 or beyond. After Boston, they plan to take their app to Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Nashville, Atlanta, and Seattle. To get off the ground, Leigh and Casey raised $130,000 in a pre-seed round.
Dig is a member of MassChallenge Boston’s summer 2018 cohort, which gives them access to scholarship opportunities, corporate partnerships, working space in Boston, and more. The Isaacson sisters reflect the fact that this year’s cohort is the first to feature more startups with at least one female founder.
Leigh and Casey’s top priority moving forward is to bring Dig to Google Play, making it available on Android phones for the first time. Right now, it is only available on iOS. Other features might also be on the way — like adding a filter to find matches with hypoallergenic dogs, a way to mark on a profile whether or not someone allows dogs to sleep on their bed with them, and more.
While dating apps are more popular than ever, the chances of actually landing an in-person date through them are surprisingly low. According to the Pew Research Center, one third of online dating site users have never actually gone on a date with someone they met on these sites. The Isaacson sisters are hoping to change this by helping people bond over their dogs, which encourages them to meet face to face.
“[Dating apps] are more and more popular every year… people are turning to the app with the best matches, that really get you out and dating,” Leigh said. “We wanted to design [Dig] in a way that people got the best out of the dating app world.”